Student Financial Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Aid

You can apply for most forms of federal, state, and institutional aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year, available online at FAFSA on the Web. You must include the University of Southern Maine school code (009762) to be considered for financial aid at USM. Please note, the FAFSA should be filed by January 15th to meet our February 1st priority deadline in order for you to be considered for the maximum amount of funding.

Once your FAFSA is submitted, you'll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education. Carefully review this to make sure that all the information is accurate as USM will receive the same information. After your SAR is processed, we will determine your financial aid eligibility and send you a financial aid notification that lists the funding you can receive.

You may be selected for a process called verification in which case you will be required to submit additional documentation to our office. We may also request documentation to satisfy additional federal eligibility requirements. Please submit all required documents in a timely manner so that we may send your financial aid notification as soon as possible.

Scholarships may require the submission of other applications, depending on the scholarship source. See scholarships for more information.

There are resources to assist you:

  

Federal privacy laws limit the use of FAFSA information to the determination of financial aid eligibility or other very limited uses. Colleges and universities are required to protect the confidentiality of student and parent data. 

Yes.  The information provided on your FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for financial aid programs such as need-based grants, federal work study and student loans. You are NOT required to accept loans or federal work study if they are offered to you. Some scholarships also require the FAFSA to be filed. A student's or family's situation may change at any time, so having the FAFSA on file makes it easier and faster to work with the financial aid office in the event that a student chooses to appeal their FAFSA information/ financial aid eligibility.

If you are considered dependent for financial aid purposes, you must provide parent information on the FAFSA. However, your parent is not obligated to pay for college expenses or borrow loans as a result of filing the FAFSA. If you have any special circumstances, please discuss your options with a financial aid counselor.

Financial aid staff in the Student Financial Services Office are available to offer assistance with understanding requests for information or documentation to ensure you are able to complete the requests and move forward with the financial aid process. 

Schools that disburse financial aid are required to verify any FAFSA that is chosen by the federal government for the verification process. If your FAFSA has been chosen for verification, there will be a comment on your Student Aid Report (SAR). The federal government stipulates specific documents that may be used to verify items on the FAFSA. If you have questions about the documents required, please don’t hesitate to contact our office directly.

The awards on your Financial Aid Package are based on a specific enrollment, so any changes in enrollment could affect eligibility for certain types of financial aid.

The minimum number of credit hours to receive most kinds of financial aid is six credits each semester for Undergraduate and Law students.  The minimum number of credit hours for Graduate students is three credits each semester beginning in Summer 2019 (six credits per semester minimum prior to Summer 2019).  

Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while a student is enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program. Upon dropping below half-time enrollment, interest will begin to accrue.
Interest begins accruing immediately on an Unsubsidized loan regardless of a student's enrollment status.
See Federal Student Aid: Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for additional information.

This refers to potential eligibility for either Federal PLUS loan or Alternative Loan. The most current information on Direct PLUS and private Alternative loans is available.

FEDERAL DIRECT PLUS LOANS
Graduate students, law students and parents of dependent undergraduate students may choose to apply for a credit-based Federal Direct PLUS Loan to cover the student’s educational expenses.

Graduate and Law students only – your Graduate PLUS Loan offer is available on MaineStreet. You may ACCEPT / DECLINE your award options once and only once by visiting MaineStreet.  By accepting your Direct PLUS Loans on MaineStreet you authorize that the U.S. Department of Education and its agents to conduct a credit check and use the information from that report to determine your eligibility for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. If you do not authorize the U.S. Department of Education and its agent to conduct a credit check, you must provide a written statement to the USM Student Financial Services. Your Graduate PLUS loan will then be canceled.

Please visit the USM Student Financial Services web site for additional information on the Federal PLUS Loan.

ESTIMATED ALTERNATIVE LOAN ELIGIBILITY

The amount listed on your award letter may be accessed by applying for a private educational loan. Alternative Loan information is available online.

Please review our Understanding Your Award brochure for important information regarding your rights and responsibilities.

No, the USM merit scholarship program does not require on-campus housing or in-person classes.

Student Accounts

Beginning the Spring 2022 semester, paper bills will no longer be issued in the mail.  All billing statements will be electronic and accessed though Touchnet.

Charges for Fall will be available on MaineStreet in mid-July.

Charges for Spring will be available on MaineStreet in late November.

Charges for Summer will be available on Mainestreet in mid-April.

Payment for Fall charges is due on August 15th.

Payment for Spring charges is due on January 15th.

Payment for Summer charges is due on May 15th.

Payment for any charges posted to your student account after the payment deadlines must be received at USM no later than ten (10) calendar days from the date the charge was incurred. If you add a class or incur other campus charges, be sure to check MaineStreet for the updated balance due.

Methods of payment include: payment in full, sufficient financial aid to cover the entire balance, enrollment in an installment payment plan or confirmation of payment by a third party.

No payment action is necessary if anticipated financial aid or third party funding is sufficient to cover the balance due in full.

Any charges not covered by financial aid or third party agency must be included in an installment payment plan or paid in full by the due date.

As per federal guidelines, most fall and spring aid will begin posting to student's accounts 10 days before the start of the semester. Summer financial aid will be disbursed no sooner than 10 days before the start of a student's first summer course.

USM extends the payment deadline for those students expecting aid to cover the balance due in full.

Any charges not covered by financial aid or third party agency must be included in an installment payment plan or paid in full by the specified due date.

Information about three of the most commonly used waivers can be found here.
If there is another waiver that you think you may be eligible for, contact our office for assistance.

Financial Aid will not post to your account if you have not completed the entrance interview, signed a master promissory note or if your credit hours do not match the number reported to Financial Aid.

Work-study is paid directly to students employed by a campus organization, office, or academic department. It will not post to your student account.

Online payment can be made by accessing the Pay My Bill link on your MaineStreet Student Center.

Payments made with a credit card are assessed a 2.85% fee by the vendor processing the transaction.

Payments made with e-checks are not assessed a fee. The site will request savings or checking account routing and account numbers.

Paper checks can be mailed to:

USM Student Financial Services
PO Box 9300
Portland, Maine  04104-9300

Cash payment and checks are accepted at our offices in Portland, Gorham, and the Student Success Center at Lewiston-Auburn College. Credit and debit cards are not accepted in the offices.

Instructions for enrolling or modifying direct deposit can be found here.

 

Refunds for eligible students begin to disburse on the first day of the semester and are thereafter issued twice a week throughout the remainder of the semester. The easiest and fastest way to receive a refund is by enrolling in direct deposit.

Paper checks will be mailed to eligible students who have not enrolled in direct deposit.
If you expect a paper check be sure that your address on MaineStreet is current.

Refund checks are not available for pickup at Student Financial Services offices.

If either of these actions results in a credit to your student account, and your financial aid does not require adjustment, a refund will be issued within ten (10) calendar days.
If you are a financial aid recipient, be sure to contact your Financial Aid advisor to discuss the potential impact on your award if you drop a class or withdraw from the semester.

Deadlines vary and can depend on the length of a class.
The add/drop/withdraw schedule can be found here.
Deadlines to drop specific classes can also be found on the calendar icon on your MaineStreet Student Center.


NOTE: it is especially important to check the drop deadlines for any class that is that is scheduled for less than 12 weeks.

YES! We recommend at least once a week.
The most current information regarding activity on your student account can be found on your MaineStreet Student Center.

YES!  We recommend at least once a week.
Important communications from Student Financial Services will be sent to your University e-mail address.

Payment Plan Related Questions

USM offers three different payment plans. Click here for more information and due dates for each of the payment plans.

No, there is no interest for using a USM payment plan. However, there is a non-refundable enrollment fee of $30.00 for each semester you utilize a payment plan.

Late Payment Fee Related Questions

If a balance exists on a student account after the semester due date  a late payment fee will be assessed to the account.  If the outstanding balance still exists the balance is liable for up to $200.00 in late payment fees per semester.

Also, late payment fees apply to delinquent payment plan payments.  If a payment isn't made by the payment due dates, a $50.00 late payment fee can be assessed to the account on each installment, up to $200.00 per semester.

Yes, a student may appeal late payment fee(s). See the Late Fee Appeal Form for details.

No. All payments must reach Student Financial Services by the specified due date. Outstanding balances are assessed a late payment fee of $50.00, maximum $200.00 per semester. This applies to all students who owe an outstanding balance to USM.

A financial hold is placed on a student's account when the balance for the semester is 30 days past due. If there is a past due balance on your Student Account:

  • You will not be permitted to register at USM or other University of Maine campuses

  • You will not obtain an official transcript

  • You will not receive your diploma

NOTE:  A financial hold may lead to potential future collection efforts.  

To get a financial hold removed from the student account, the balance must be paid in full. To discuss payment arrangements, contact Student Financial Services at (207) 780-5250.

Miscellaneous Questions

Students who are registered for a Portland or Gorham class pay a transportation fee which covers garage access. To access the USM parking garage on the Portland campus, you must have a valid USM ID card. To obtain the USM ID card please visit the USM Card Office.

To access the USM ground lots, a parking hang tag can be obtained at the Parking and Transportation Offices at either the Portland and Gorham campuses

The University of Maine System governs which students are eligible to receive Maine Residency status. Please check the guidelines to determine if you may qualify.  

To begin the change of residency process an application must be received at Student Financial Services before the start of the semester. Please allow the review committee 2-3 weeks for a complete assessment. 

3rd Party Billing

It is the student’s responsibility to obtain authorization from the third party sponsor. The student or the third party sponsor will need to provide a hard copy of the authorization form to Student Financial Services before the payment due date (A late authorization could result in a late payment fee).

An authorization requires specific information pertaining to what the third party sponsor is willing to pay on the students’ behalf (i.e. tuition, fees, books, room, or board) and the specific dollar amount(s). However, the third party sponsor must be willing to pay in advance of the student completing the class. If the third party sponsor will not pay until completion of the class the student is responsible for the bill before the payment due date. USM offers payment plans to help assist students in paying for their classes.   

The authorizations can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to the following:

Student Financial Services
University of Southern Maine
37 College Avenue
Gorham, ME  04038

Fax #: (207) 780-5143

Email:  cdecosta@maine.edu

NOTE: It is the student responsibility to make payment for any portion of the bill not covered by the third party sponsor, by the payment due date, to avoid late payment fees.

For questions about third party billing, contact Cindy DeCosta at Student Financial Services at (207) 780-5108 or by email at cdecosta@maine.edu

The student needs to provide copies of the outside scholarship(s) to Student Financial Services. Copies of award letters can be faxed to 207-228-8591.

NOTE: Student Financial Services will mail out a bill for the scholarship after the add/drop period of each semester if indicated in the award letter or at the request of the student. Further questions can be directed to Michele Reagan at (207) 780-4028 or michele.reagan@maine.edu

The Financial Terms and Conditions is a statement which describes the financial obligation a student accepts when he or she enrolls for classes at any campus of the University of Maine System. The statement, and its acceptance, is a legal agreement between the student and the University of Maine System. Ensuring that students understand the financial commitment they are making when they register for courses is an important component of a student’s financial literacy and is also required by the Federal Bureau of Consumer Protection. This statement only needs to be completed once unless there is a two-year gap between enrollment, at which point the statement would need to be completed again.